HomeFinanceHow much does it cost to live off the grid?

How much does it cost to live off the grid?

Dwelling off the grid probably conjures photos of distant Alaskan wilderness. Or Vermont hippies in tiny homes. Or anti-government compounds out in Texas. In different phrases: each TV present you’ve ever watched on the Discovery Channel. 

However round my neck of the woods (rural Maine), off-grid life is a comparatively widespread actuality for a variety of individuals. And sometime I’m hoping it is going to be my actuality as properly. So, I’m going to try the price of residing off the grid, for each your profit and mine. Is it cheaper than a standard, on-grid dwelling? How possible is it for these with decrease incomes? 

What resides off the grid?

Dwelling off the grid means various things to totally different folks, and there are numerous extremes. However, normally, it includes residing within the wilderness with a decreased reliance on trendy expertise. That might imply an absence {of electrical} grids (therefore the time period “off-grid”), electrical and propane heaters, and different utility strains (like sewer and water). Primarily, you’re fully or primarily reliant on the methods you create independently.

Under are among the key issues, and monetary implications, of this main life-style adjustment.


Earlier than I begin speaking concerning the precise prices of buying, it’s necessary to level out that these are approximate prices. The exact price will differ primarily based on many elements, reminiscent of:

  • If in case you have a view
  • If you buy farmland or woods (farmland is usually dearer)
  • Entry to water
  • Proximity to a significant metropolis, and so forth.

So, in case you purchase acreage proper on the ocean and comparatively near a significant metropolis, you’re going to be paying a premium. Since I’ve been land over the previous few years, I’ve discovered that to get land for subsequent to nothing in Maine, I’d must go about three to 4 hours away from a significant city space.

Listed below are some common land costs for just a few states in several areas of the U.S.:

  • Maine — $2,860/acre
  • New York — $3,450/acre
  • Florida — $6,600/acre
  • Texas — $2,650/acre
  • Kansas — $2,630/acre
  • Michigan — $5,850/acre
  • Arizona — $4,200/acre
  • California — $12,000/acre
  • Montana — $1,030/acre

As you may see, the Mountain and Plains states have among the least expensive land per acre, whereas costs in California may be prohibitively costly. This is a crucial level to bear in mind once you’re looking for a spot to construct your off-grid dwelling. 


Dwelling off the grid doesn’t essentially imply it’s a must to construct a log cabin deep within the woods. On the subject of housing, you may go a few other ways:

Shopping for a house already off-grid

If you wish to do issues the straightforward approach, there are a lot of homes which are already arrange off the grid. Among the finest actual property web sites (e.g., Zillow or Realtor.com) have “key phrase” choices that can help you search off-grid properties. Under is a fast snapshot of among the obtainable properties close to me:

Off-grid homes listed on Zillow

I wish to take a second to level out one main theme in off-grid properties — they’re not million-dollar homes. Most off-grid properties don’t include a ton of bells and whistles, which is precisely why most folk search for them. As you may see, off-grid properties are sometimes rather more inexpensive than conventional homes, however they require a bigger time dedication. 

Constructing your individual dwelling

Relying on the place you reside, you should purchase land for as little as $1,000 or so. In that case, constructing your individual home may be cheaper than buying one. Should you follow a smaller dwelling, and do many of the work your self with native supplies, it can save you 1000’s, if not tons of of 1000’s of {dollars}. 

That is very true for properties which are off the grid. They don’t include advanced electrical methods, they’ve easier sewage methods, and their heating methods (when wanted) are additionally easier. 

Tiny homes

I’m an enormous advocate for tiny homes. They’re transportable they usually embrace many of the creature comforts we’re used to. They’re additionally extremely low cost to construct. You possibly can go tremendous easy or decked out, and also you’ll nonetheless spend lower than you’ll on a grand dwelling. 

Loads of folks make their tiny properties stationary, and since most individuals who dwell off the grid worth outside recreation anyway, a tiny house is the proper place to chill out on the finish of the night time. 


Should you’re a frequent traveler and wish to be off-grid whereas sustaining a cellular life-style, residing in your van would possibly meet each of these wants. Most individuals who do journey of their van are already residing off the grid with out even realizing it. 

One factor to notice right here, nevertheless, is that you simply’re fully depending on the assets round you. You’ll want to search out someplace to bathe, locations to cease and eat/make meals, and a spot to park your van each night time. 

How do I get the cash to construct an off-grid dwelling?

Now you’re in all probability to the purpose the place you’re questioning the way you even go about financing a complete off-grid challenge. That relies upon fully on how a lot you’re going to spend. If it’s a must to finance the land and the constructing of your house, you’ll want a building dwelling mortgage, which is quite a bit like a standard mortgage, besides it’s for constructing your house and comes with some extra stringent guidelines. You should utilize a mortgage aggregator like Fiona to match totally different lenders and their phrases. 


GIF of a Simpsons character saying 'Hi neighbor'

Supply: Tenor.com

Not everybody who needs to dwell off the grid is a Henry David Thoreau-style loner. Some folks nonetheless wish to be round different like-minded of us; they only don’t wish to depend on authorities assets. 

Should you’re seeking to be a part of a group whereas residing off the grid, know that you simply’ll probably find yourself residing in small cities. Under are a few locations you could wish to look into:

Three Rivers Recreation Space

Within the wilderness of Oregon, you’ll discover the Three Rivers Recreation Space. It’s dwelling to a little bit over 600 off-grid properties. Since such a big group has fashioned right here, you’ll find some creature comforts, like satellite tv for pc TV, high-speed web, and a big photo voltaic farm that generates electrical energy. Yow will discover all the pieces from fundamental properties to million-dollar properties. 

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage

If you wish to dwell in a really small group of 60 folks or so, Missouri’s Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage has quite a bit to supply. They’re a completely sustainable, off-grid group devoted to utilizing completely reusable supplies in all that they do, together with constructing their properties. 

Tinkers Bubble, England

Should you’re prepared to maneuver throughout the pond, take into account Tinkers Bubble, an enthralling, sustainable village nestled in English woods. If it’s sustainability that you simply’re on the lookout for, this 28-acre group has constructed all the pieces from its properties to its farms with sustainable supplies. 

And if farming is your sport, all of the earnings generated from this group comes from its farms and orchards. 

Electrical energy

If you wish to actually dwell off the grid, you’ll have to discover a option to get electrical energy. Fortunately, renewable vitality is taking off, making it simpler for the common individual to entry it. Know that there will probably be a hefty price up entrance for a lot of of those energy sources, however they repay tenfold in just some months or years. 

Photo voltaic panels

It prices about $12,000 on common to put in photo voltaic panels in a house (after federal tax incentives). Now, earlier than you quit on the thought altogether due to the terrifying prices, know that photo voltaic panels additionally begin paying for themselves in a little bit over 5 years. After that, you may anticipate to avoid wasting 1000’s yearly. 

And an additional benefit is the truth that there are tons of tax breaks you get when you’ve photo voltaic panels, and when you have electrical energy that you just don’t use (photo voltaic panels generate a LOT), electrical energy corporations could also be prepared to purchase it from you. There’s a facet hustle I wager you by no means thought you’d have! 

Learn extra: How photo voltaic panels can prevent a fortune in vitality prices

Wind generators

Most individuals choose to have knowledgeable set up their wind turbine, as they’re sometimes tall, heavy, and considerably harmful to put in by yourself. And, sadly, that set up can price you a fairly penny (upwards of $15,000 to $50,000 relying on the scale you want). 

That being mentioned, there are a shocking variety of DIY wind turbine kits that may price as little as just a few hundred {dollars}. These gained’t generate as a lot electrical energy, however in case you offset them with a small photo voltaic panel setup, you may probably discover a low-cost combo that satisfies all of your electrical energy wants.


There are tons of how you may get water to your house once you dwell off the grid. Listed below are simply a few the more cost effective choices:

Nicely water

Digging a properly is the commonest water entry methodology for off-gridders. In actual fact, many land websites close to me have already got wells dug, since that’s what most individuals all through the state use. Once more, this methodology would require some work and or cash upfront. You’ll have to dig the properly, which just about at all times requires drilling into the bottom (and no, not with a hand-held drill). You are able to do this your self, however you’ll have to hire gear you probably don’t know use. 

My suggestion, since water is one absolute necessity you’ll want, is to rent somebody for this. This will probably be within the 1000’s to the $10,000+ vary. However once more, after the work is finished, you’ll have a viable water supply for years to return. 

Should you’re actually a do-it-yourself type of individual, I like to recommend this learn to get you began.

Pure water sources

That is clearly one of many best strategies to get water. Should you dwell close to a river or lake (that you realize is protected to drink from — test with the city in case you don’t), you may get water immediately from the supply. 

After all, at all times make sure that to test with the city you reside in about water entry, simply in case there are any restrictions. 

You’ll additionally wish to take into account a pump system that may assist you to get water as much as your house. Until, in fact, you construct your house very near the water supply (which may be tough if issues flood usually, so do your due diligence and be taught concerning the land you’re shopping for). 

Sizzling water is a complete totally different beast

Getting water to your house is simply step one of a multi-step course of to get precise scorching water. The only approach — and the way in which that’s the most important ache — is to warmth up your water on a range and use that to take baths and do your dishes. That is generally invoked by folks trying to economize.

The opposite approach is through the use of a water heater. You may get heaters that run off electrical energy or propane. Now, for this to work, you do must have a properly system or a water tank system. The price to put in a water heater is comparatively modest. It’ll be round $1,000 to $3,000 relying on the scale of the heater. 


Wooden range

A wooden range or fire is without doubt one of the most typical strategies of heating off-grid properties. The quantity you’ll must pay month-to-month for wooden depends upon the scale of the house you’re heating, whereas the price to get it put in hovers round $1,000 to $4,000. 

Propane heaters

Propane heaters are sometimes used along with wooden stoves to warmth locations the wooden range might not attain. The necessary factor to recollect about propane heaters is that they are often harmful if left unattended for too lengthy.

Propane additionally is without doubt one of the dearer methods to warmth your house (belief me, that’s how I heated my final residence). I paid about $175 per 30 days to warmth my one-bedroom residence every winter, and the warmth didn’t even attain the again bed room. A big home could possibly be two to a few instances that a lot.  


There are two main lavatory setups once you dwell off the grid: composting bogs and water tank methods. 

Composting bogs

This methodology is often the one which journeys folks up, as a result of it’s fairly totally different than the way in which most of us consider modern-day bogs. Composting bogs are just like bogs you’d see in RVs. They do require extra upkeep than your common rest room, however they’re additionally an extremely eco-friendly different. Composting bogs often vary in value from round $1,400 to $3,000, relying on how easy you’re prepared to go. 

Water tanks

If in case you have a water tank related to pipes or a pressurized system, this could double as your sewage system. You’ll want a separate tank for gray water (waste), and also you’ll have to have entry to a spot to empty the tank (contact your city to ask). That is, nevertheless, a considerably low cost choice, because the tanks themselves are often only some hundred {dollars}. 


Whether or not or not you’ve the web whereas residing off the grid is fully as much as you. Many diehards will say that having the web defeats the entire goal of residing off the grid, however so many professions are primarily based on-line lately that being offline at dwelling is probably not a actuality for everybody. 

Should you do go for web entry, you’ll have to get a little bit inventive. Listed below are a few concepts to get you began:

Use an infinite information plan (when you have cellular phone protection)

If in case you have cellular phone protection in your space, you may get an infinite information plan and use your cellphone or pill as your sole web supply. Most individuals do all the pieces they should on their telephones anyway, so why not make the most of it?

Satellite tv for pc web

Some rural communities have satellite tv for pc web choices. Whereas there aren’t many satellite tv for pc web choices available on the market proper now, in case you’re within the vary of both Viasat or HughesNet, you may probably get web less expensive than those that use conventional suppliers. Each corporations have plans starting from round $50 to $350 per 30 days, relying on what a part of the nation you’re in.

Discover others who’ve it

In Maine, there are Dunkin Donuts even in essentially the most distant areas of the state. They usually virtually at all times supply free Wi-Fi. Espresso outlets, libraries, and even loads of parks supply free Wi-Fi as properly. You possibly can at all times head over to considered one of these locations in case you completely want to make use of the web. 


Loads of folks choose to maintain their common nine-to-five jobs after which return to their off-grid homestead. However in case you’re not inside commuting distance of an city hub the place there are a whole lot of job alternatives, you’ll want to determine another type of employment. 

Freelance work

Should you choose to have the web at your house (if you may get it), on-line freelance work is at all times an choice. You possibly can weblog, edit, do design work, submit your images to photograph websites, and the checklist goes on and on. 

Learn extra: 17 methods to make cash on-line


If you wish to make off-grid residing your full-time job, you may. Simply know that not anybody can up and resolve to maneuver to the nation and be a farmer. It takes some critical know-how. Within the meantime, you may work on native farms, which usually need assistance throughout harvest seasons.

Should you dwell in a rural space, as a rule there will probably be a variety of close by farms so that you can select from. You possibly can decide up abilities from native farmers in your space, and be taught a factor or two.

Aspect notice: One other advantage of rural life is that being adjoining to farming communities can severely scale back your meals invoice.


Even in case you dwell off the grid, likelihood is there are folks round you who don’t. Should you’re already a talented commerce employee (electrician, plumber, carpenter, and so forth.), you may profit from the truth that these round you continue to very a lot need assistance with their on-grid methods. 

Well being care

There’s little doubt about it, residing off the grid is hard. Most of your day-to-day time is spent studying survive by yourself with out the comfort of recent expertise. That may put on your physique down quite a bit quicker than in case you dwell in a house with on-demand warmth and AC, electrical energy managed by your city, and a grocery retailer down the road. 

On condition that put on and tear, you could want to go to a physician greater than the common on-grid individual. 

I’m self-employed, so I do know that discovering well being care isn’t essentially the most pleasing side of adulting.  However, since a disproportionate quantity of people that dwell off the grid don’t have common W-2 jobs, having to search out well being care all by yourself is a typical follow. 

Learn extra: Is the price of having medical health insurance price it?

Who ought to (and shouldn’t) dwell off the grid?

These prepared to commerce their time for a less complicated life-style

Dwelling off the grid is finest for individuals who totally know and perceive what they’re entering into. Most of your time is spent merely surviving.

It’s excellent in case you’re on the lookout for a option to keep a less complicated life and also you embrace the truth that it takes a whole lot of work. 

These trying to economize long run

All-in-all, when you get all the pieces arrange, residing off the grid is a less expensive option to dwell. Renewable vitality is price efficient, residing off the land makes for decrease meals payments (however takes extra upkeep), and residing in a much less extravagant dwelling can prevent some huge cash, too. 

These enthusiastic about creature comforts and comfort

That mentioned, regardless of how interesting rural life and/or the prospect of saving cash might sound, you gained’t like residing off the grid in case you can’t sacrifice modern-day facilities. Many individuals take with no consideration how simple it’s simply to flip a swap in your house and have mild. Or to activate the tap and get clear water. Should you don’t wish to keep photo voltaic panels, handle a properly system, or develop your individual meals, the appreciable financial savings from residing off the grid won’t be definitely worth the effort for you.


Dwelling off the grid isn’t for everybody. However for the courageous few, there are financial savings available! Because you do with out most trendy facilities, there goes the price of subscription providers, dear heaters, and air-con, amongst many different decreased bills.

You’re pressured to dwell a less complicated life-style once you’re off the grid, which is what some folks crave. On the identical time, residing off the grid does include a excessive upfront funding. So be sure to weigh either side earlier than making a call. 

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